What is Plastic? A Summary Report Exploring the Potential for Certain Materials to be Exempted from the Single Use Plastics Directive

21st January 2020

by Simon Hann, Hannah Gillie, Joe Papineschi, Lauren Duffield, Caroline Bradley

This summary report explores potential loopholes in the European Commission’s Single Use Plastics Directive.

The research found that that certain ‘natural polymers’ could be exempted under the Directive’s definition of plastic, including those likely to have similar negative effects on the environment as their synthetic counterparts.

If taken forward, the recommendations made by this report would ensure that products placed on the market would have to demonstrate significantly lower environmental impact than conventional plastics or otherwise be covered by the Directive’s requirements, which include bans on some plastic products such as straws and stirrers, and the introduction of extended producer responsibility for others such as wet wipes, under which producers would be held financially responsible for their environmental impact.

Researchers focused on materials found in wet wipes, specifically lyocell and viscose.

The report makes a series of recommendations for actions that can be taken to close these loopholes on pages 9 and 10 of the report.